Shakedown Beach

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  • About Shakedown Beach

    In his novel Shakedown Beach, damage control guru and South Jersey native Eric Dezenhall returns to the scene of his previous crimes and completes his South Jersey trilogy with a new take on political propaganda and the ugly truths that lurk behind a curtain of spin.

    With the return of the main character of his debut novel Money Wanders, failed political pollster Jonah Eastman re-emerges front and center — this time to help spin the reelection campaign of New Jersey’s poster boy governor, Gardner “Rebound” Rothman, whom Jonah put into the governor’s mansion by blaming a hurricane on his opponent. But Jonah, who’s never been above deploying deceptive spin, begins to smell something rotten in paradise — and it ain’t the Jersey tomatoes.

    With Rothman’s Soprano-ites bent on burying him deep in the Pinelands, Jonah enlists the aid of his own gang of miscreant mobsters, led by Chief Willie Thundercloud and Irv the Curve (Jonah’s grandfather’s best bud) to uncover the truth about Rothman and his devilish deeds.

    Set in the author’s native South Jersey, Shakedown Beach is a smart, suspenseful and ingeniously funny ride through the back alleys of political campaigning — bringing to life a fictional tale that could be ripped from today’s headlines.

    From the politician whose primary credential was being the “only tall Jew in professional sports,” to hired-gun former pro-wrestlers who quote political philosophers and PR-savvy gangsters who seek public approval in the age of corporate scandal by endorsing “socially responsible racketeering,” Shakedown Beach will keep readers on a rollercoaster of laughter and anticipation, while recalling the many related real life damage control fiascos of the past few years.

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  • Reviews for Shakedown Beach


    “A well-observed thriller.”

    “Political hustle and gangland muscle.”

    “Eric Dezenhall, author of last summer’s Jackie Disaster, is fast becoming one of the most hilarious chroniclers of America’s criminal underbelly… Great beach reading.”

    “Eric Dezenhall is busy tearing up the boardwalks of South Jersey in Shakedown Beach, a cheeky political satire… there’s real wit in the technically straight scenes in which Jonah preps his candidate for a press interview or puts a focus group through its paces. Here’s proof that politics is funny when it isn’t even trying.”

    “Dezenhall is the most mordantly funny writer not named Westlake, with an ear for the zinger, a lie detector that makes mincemeat of politicians and spinmeisters, and the ability to plot like Machiavelli.”

    “Move over, Carl Hiaasen. Eric Dezenhall is the new king of the funky crime novel. Now, with Shakedown Beach, due out in June, Dezenhall should emerge as a leading pop novelist. The book revels in the cheesy efforts of an unethical pollster to get a corrupt New Jersey governor elected to the U.S. Senate. There are incompetent mobsters, gullible journalists, politico wannabes and kneeling interns galore, plus a plot to make voters resent the sinister Swedish influence on the Garden State. (You’ve noticed all those Ikeas along the Jersey Turnpike, haven’t you?) Dezenhall has a sharp wit, an inventive mind for amusing low-life characters, an insider’s knowledge of how to manipulate the media, and he does for South Jersey what Hiaasen did for South Beach.”

    “… a textured portrait of New Jersey and the political process. The end result is a literary triumph and a moral rulebook. Thank you, Eric Dezenhall. New Jersey salutes you.”

    “As with Jackie DisasterShakedown Beach is a terrific look at modern day image making that our leaders spend fortunes on to include painting the opponent in a bad light… Witty, humorous… Eric Dezenhall makes New Jersey the spin capital of the world with a tale well worth reading, especially with the election coming soon.”

    Shakedown Beach is a smart, suspenseful and ingeniously funny ride through the back alleys of political campaigning; bringing to life a fictional tale that could be ripped from today’s headlines.”

    “I read this series because it is clever and funny, but with a horrified fascination because it shows how a savvy media strategist can turn a mean-tempered chimpanzee into a warm-hearted statesman.”

    “The final installment of Dezenhall’s South Jersey trilogy, Shakedown features a sleazy governor with a closet full of secrets, gangland-style intimidation and plenty of sex. It all makes for a dangerously interesting reelection campaign.”

    “There is something beautifully nostalgic about Eric Dezenhall’s latest novel, Shakedown Beach, a story that evokes the best (and worst, depending on whom you ask) features of American politics: the imagery, bombast, weaknesses, promises, threats and scandals — accented throughout by Mafioso tough talk — that make that national institution, the American political campaign, such an entertaining pastime… Dezenhall glamorizes New Jersey, describing its rural heritage, suburban dominance, high stakes fun and political intrigue… a welcome homage to the kind of genuinely gritty political behavior that makes elections a source of mystery and conspiracy, a combination that manufactures headlines, investigations, bribes and protests. Eric Dezenhall is perhaps the last writer to accurately record the lost voices of New Jersey, while including his own brand of creative license. His reportorial zeal is evident throughout, providing an insider’s account of the mechanics — the dirty tricks, secret favors, hidden stories and assorted vendettas — that define urban politics. The book’s featured politician (“Rebound” Rothman) is a hilarious satire of numerous elected officials, channeling Clintonian love affairs and Kennedyesque charm. And his media handlers are equally ruthless and flamboyant. The book thus delivers on its promise: that the reader will enjoy a wonderful yarn about the human condition, with a decidedly political flavor. Dezenhall delivers on all fronts — a superb work of storytelling!

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